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Ethan's Journey

Organized by Maria Arbelo
Po4143264 front
Ethan's Journey Fundraiser - unisex shirt design - front
Ethan's Journey Fundraiser - unisex shirt design - back
Ethan's Journey shirt design - zoomed
Hanes Tagless T-shirt

My Marine is preparing to go home...

Custom Ink
All funds raised will go to Maria Arbelo, the organizer for household and final arrangement expenses.
$840 raised
55 items sold of
75 goal
Thanks to our supporters!
Hanes Tagless T-shirt, Unisex - Deep Red
Hanes Tagless T-shirt
Unisex - Deep Red
Organized by Maria Arbelo

About this campaign

I've been trying to put together the rest of the details on Ethan's final arrangements and the wake but my heart just won't let me. I know that I want to make it so special for him because he is an amazing little man and I want nothing but the best for my EMan. We won't be playing any of the traditional music at the final arrangements because he wouldn't want that. We are going to play my favorite videosof him doing his thing, as well as, his favorite songs. I've arranged for everyone to get a square of big-ass bubble wrap to pop. Nothing says EMan like bubble wrap. LOL. We are going to have a more modern version of an Irish Wake for EMan because he wants it that way. LOL. We are going to play his favorite songs and everyone is going to have to toast to their favorite memory of Ethan. No crying unless it's tears of joy for the life he shared with others. I am so broken but Ethan and I talk a lot. He knows I'll be okay...I think. He wants to make sure that his celebration of life, not the mourning of his death, lives on. He makes me promise every night that I will make sure the world doesn't forget him..I aim to keep that promise.

All raised funds will go to Maria Maldonado for household and final arrangement expenses.

Hi, Everyone. This is Ethan’s mom, Maria. As most of you know, I served in the United States Marine Corps. I knew at age 6 that crossing that parade deck was my destiny. I didn’t have the easiest childhood but I held onto that dream and it saw me through some really horrible times…sometimes, it was the only thing that helped me survive. Now, almost 25 years later, my little man is fighting for his own survival against a far greater beast than I could ever imagine…pediatric brain cancer and his dream of walking that parade deck crushed.
Since he was born, I knew he would do great things…it was why his name was chosen. You see, Ethan means, “strong and optimistic..solid, enduring and permanent”; his middle name, Alexander, after the famous Alexander the Great. Undefeated in battle and considered one of history’s greatest commanders. I could never imagine that those names would personify who he is today and who, forever, he will be.
February 26th 2012, our lives were changed forever when I took my son, Ethan, for a simple eye exam. Dr. Hart of All Saints Eye Care, here in Ft. Myers, noted cerebral fluid pressing on Ethan's optic nerves and two days later, we were en route to All Children's Hospital in St. Pete, FL. Ethan underwent an MRI and emergency surgery to relieve hydrocephalus, as well as a dangerous biopsy to diagnose a lesion found on his right thalamus. On March 6th 2012, we received the diagnosis of Anaplastic Astrocytoma Grade III; thus sending Ethan into a battle against time, this battle we now refer to as "Ethan's Journey."
November 20, 2013, was the day our lives took a turn for the worst. After Ethan’s MRI was done, the Radiologist stepped into the room and asked to speak to me privately. My heart sank in my chest because I already suspected what he had to say. Even today, the words ring in my ear and my heart skips its beat. The flash of me having to tell my son that he is dying and hearing the fear in voice and see the fear on his face rips at my very being.
Ethan’s fight through all of this has been so exemplary and I am forever grateful that the Commandant issued the warrant making him Honorary United States Marine. While he did ask why he had cancer, he has never once complained. He never questions. He just trusts me implicitly and as his Commanding Officer, I just try to do my best make the right call.
My heart is broken. I feel as if God has led me to the battlefield and abandoned me. I cannot imagine my life without my little one, his laughter…his corny jokes and his warm embrace, his beating heart. When I almost lost him in May 2012, I told him that he was a Marine and Marines were not allowed to die without permission. In April 2013, he tried to give up on his battle and surrender to defeat. I reminded him that he was a Marine and Marines were not allowed to die without permission. Mustering up the courage behind tears, I instructed him to suck “that s*** up because I, as his CO, hadn’t issued that order yet!” This time was different…As I told him why hospice was delivering his new bed and all the other equipment; he sobbed into his little hands and reached out in fear for me, begging me not to issue “The Order”. “But I’m not done. I can beat this”, he said with certainty. Imagine those words in your ears…imagine waking up and not wanting to move because you’re afraid your little one didn’t. Imagine hearing your child speak of having children and naming them after you…only to cry out inside because you know that will never happen. Imagine your child speaking of being reincarnated so he can be with you again. This is the devastation of pediatric cancer.
We have had such an outpouring of love and support from our military family…all across the globe, each phone call, text, email or comment wishing us a good fight and offering words of support. Many have asked if we need anything and said we need only ask. Ethan and I want to ask you now to help. Last week, Hospice told me he is expected to live only a few more months. With his health deteriorating, it is becoming increasingly difficult and time intensive to care for Ethan. He is becoming incontinent and requires assistance walking, bathing and eating. Since my son’s diagnosis, I have been fired or forced to leave four jobs. Although I have tried to maintain employment but it has become apparent that I can no longer hold a full-time job while giving Ethan the kind of care he requires and deserves. Without this income, the two of us are dependent on SSI and donations to pay our bills. Although we are thankful for the assistance, the funding from SSI barely covers our rent payment, leaving little money for other household expenses. My job has kept us afloat for the last few months but continuing to work is no longer an option for me. I ask you, as a mother, to please help me maintain a standard of living for my son in his last months on Earth. Help me to stay in our home, so he can go to sleep every night in his own bedroom. Help me to keep the electricity bill paid, so he can take his mind off the cancer by playing on his Xbox. Help me to keep the fridge stocked with his favorite foods, so he can eat them on the days when he actually has an appetite. Perhaps most of all, I ask for your help in raising money for the day we all hoped would never come, his funeral. Although preparing for my young son’s funeral is the last thing I want to think about, it is up to me to make sure he is given a ceremony that fully honors and respects his life’s legacy. As a Marine myself, I was honored to watch my son achieve Honorary Marine status this past fall at 4th AAV Battalion Marine Corps Base in Tampa. It is important to both of us that he be given his full military honor with a Marine’s funeral. With our economic future unclear, it breaks my heart that I am uncertain as to how I will be covering the associated expenses. While it is not easy for me to ask for the help of strangers, I see no other option now. Shortly before his diagnosis, Ethan helped raise nearly $500 for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as part of a school project. Little did he know he’d soon be the one needing that help? Semper Fi, Maria E. Maldonado, USMC


Anonymous 1 item

This Marine has more guts then any other. He fought proudly.

Mickayla 1 item + $10
Warren E. 1 item

Proud to support a Marine!!!

Cpl Aho 1 item

Just helping out another Marine

Alexander Duchini 2 items

Marines take care of their own. Semper Fi

Dominic La Rocco 1 item
Reynold J Rosado 1 item

Marines will always help out a fellow Marine in need and this is an extremely good cause. Wish i was able to offer more.

LCpl Matthew Taylor 1 item

Always happy to help a fellow Marine!

Cpl. Rosario USMC 1 item
Dayna Caraway 1 item


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